Monday, October 24, 2005

The Natural Habitat Of The Dog

The natural habitat of the wolf is in the forests, beaches, plains, deserts and mountains. They survive by their wits and by those things they learn as part of the wolf pack. The natural habitat of the domestic dog is with humans in human environments. Wherever we go and wherever we live, the domestic dog must survive by their wits and by those things that they learn as part of their human pack.

Dogs have been the companions of humans before the beginning of recorded history. There’s no proof that dogs are manmade creations that came from wolves. They are uniquely able to thrive with people. In fact, it would be wrong to tell a dog it can’t live with people. Where is the domestic dog going to go if it can’t live with people? Most dog breeds aren’t equipped to both live with people and live in the wild. In fact, if a dog gets lost and away from people, they will most likely die. A dog is happiest and functions best with human companionship. The domestic dog’s habitat is with people.

In modern society, we must purposefully make a place for our dogs in order for them to survive. Unfortunately, we are crowding our dogs out of our society. In most areas, it’s hard to find a hotel, apartment or condominium that will accept a dog over 25 pounds. The funny thing is, that most dog owners are wealthier than the average person and are willing to pay extra to find a place to stay that takes a dog. In fact, private business owners could make a lot more money if they allowed dogs onto their premises and just charged the owners extra for the privilege. I know I’m willing to pay extra to be able to bring my dog into public and business areas.

It’s also hard to find parks that allow people to Train their dogs off leash. Our dogs NEED the space to learn off leash obedience in public areas, but we rarely allow them the opportunity to do so. It’s no wonder that so many dogs are untrained and anti-social. We don’t give them ample opportunities public opportunities to practice their obedience and social skills. There are also dog bans in many areas. In some cities and countries, it’s illegal or nearly impossible to own certain breeds of dog, regardless of their behavior. Many natural parks ban dogs from their trails and back country.

As a taxpayer and dog owner, I often ask whether it is really necessary to ban dogs from all trails in our National Parks. Couldn’t each major trail and area be analyzed to see if a dog would cause damage or harm? And if not, why not open up some of the trails to dog owners? Surely, there are some trails that could be opened up in almost every park. The only exceptions would be parks like Yellowstone that have dangerous physical (geysers) and animal (grizzly bears) hazards. Why should a dog owner, with a trained dog, be prevented from taking a walk with his or her dog in our National Parks? Anyone who has ever owned a dog knows how much fun, and how happy it makes a dog, to hike with them on a nature trail. In all my years, I have never seen ANY evidence of ANY damage to natural areas by leashed dogs. Why should our dogs be deprived of this happiness? And, why are we paying our tax dollars for OUR PARKS to prevent us from reasonably and safely using them?

With some Parks, it makes no sense for dogs to be banned. For example, Mt. St. Helens, in Washington State was destroyed by a huge volcanic blast. The blast was more powerful than a nuclear bomb. And, it’s predicted that the mountain will blow again in less than 100 years. Every tree within miles was blown down, and will be blown down again with the next blast. It’s just a bunch of dirt. But, dogs are banned beyond the parking lots.

How is it that it was OK with Mt. St. Helens park officials to allow tractors and logging crews to comb the hillsides there to pick up the downed trees, but a dog on a leash is not permitted on the trails? Which does more damage, tractors and logging crews, or a leashed dog on a designated trail? How is it that tractors are used to plow roads, and road crews are permitted to use dynamite to blow through rocks, in order to build miles of roads, visitor centers, and forest service roads? Which does more damage, tractors and road crews, or a leashed dog on a designated trail? Some of the trails are even paved, but dogs are not allowed even on the paved trails! In addition, horses, bicycles, 4-wheel drive pickups, and motocross bikes are allowed in the park, but not dogs! In fact, 1,000 pound domestic horses are allowed in many of our parks and trails. How can a huge animal, like a horse, which eats park grass and plants, and leaves huge piles of dung on our trails, be allowed in our parks, but not our dogs (which weigh far less, defecate far less, and are less likely to do any wear and tear to the grounds)?

Wild animals and wild dogs are allowed in our parks. Foxes, coyotes, and wolves roam freely, kill wildlife and defecate all over our parks with no damage. How in the world is a domestic dog, on a leash, on a designated trail, going to cause more damage than the wildlife that is already in the park?

How is the domestic dog going to be more damaging to our natural areas than:

The Bear: 300 to 600 pounds. Eats park vegetation and other animals. Should we ban the bear?

The Elk: 1,000+ pounds. Hooves damage sensitive park plants, sinking deep into the ground. Destroys trees with antlers. Huge amounts of dung. Should we ban the Elk?

The Buffalo: 2,000 pounds. Walks over sensitive geyser basins at Yellowstone Park, carries diseases that might be contagious to domestic cattle, walks off trails, leaves huge amounts of dung. Should we ban the Buffalo?

Wild Dogs: Wolves, coyotes, foxes, jackals, and wild dogs run freely, unleashed in parks around the world killing and eating endangered species. Should we ban Wild Dogs from our parks?

In fact, which group of animals would produce the greatest amount of dung on the grounds: the deer, wolves, foxes, marmots, birds, foxes, elk, and moose, or the domestic dogs on the trails? In fact, if the sight and smell and effects of dung is the issue, then why does almost every park have a visitor display that explains why animal waste is so important to the health and vitality of the park?

There is no documented scientific evidence, anywhere in the world, that shows leashed and supervised domestic dogs have ever measurably and significantly damaged any forest, park, beach, habitat, etc. One additional bogus argument why dogs are banned from wilderness areas is because they might scare off the animals that live there. That’s nonsense. YOUR presence on a trail will probably scare the animals as much or more than a leashed dog. Most wild animals are particularly afraid of humans. Wild predators are much more of a threat to the wild animals than your leashed dog. In fact, except at parks like Yellowstone, where people are afraid to go into the wilderness, it’s usually rare to even see most wild animals at all, whether you have a dog or not.

The reason dogs are banned from so many areas is because some people don’t like domesticated animals, because some people don’t like dogs, and because some people are afraid of dogs... not because the dogs, or their owners have done anything to deserve banishment.


neighbordog culp said...


neighbordog culp said...